Back in the ‘90s and early 2000s, infomercials for “The Clapper” convinced most kids that their rooms would function like the Starship Enterprise if they got a clap-activated light switch at home. Knocki is the 2016 version of switch-less tap-technology, but thanks to the ever-expanding internet of things, it might actually be useful.
Knocki improves upon its ancient predecessors while diverging from modern, popular smart devices like the Amazon Echo and other natural language understanding technologies. It doesn’t need you to speak complicated voice commands — instead, you just knock on a flat surface and let the vibrations do the work.
The device is a small, round sensor that can go basically anywhere in a home, either visible or concealed on most surfaces. Users then program the device to respond to taps or knocks on that surface, and the responses are communicated over wifi. There’s a Knocki app that serves a basic if this, then that function: If I tap three times on the coffee table, then the lights should dim, the TV should turn on, and the blinds should go down. Or: If I knock four times on the snack cabinet, then the local pizza shop should get to making and delivering one large pepperoni.
Best of all, unlike microphone-reliant smart devices, it doesn’t look like it’d be easy for a government to spy on you via a Knocki, unless they’re really interested in how often you order pizza every month/week/day.
Knocki met its Kickstarter goal in an hour, then raised $1.1 million plus an additional $1.2 million on Indiegogo InDemand, so people are clearly willing to buy into the hype.
Both concept and design have clearly taken some polishing: Knocki is apparently programmed well enough to detect real knocks as opposed to incidental vibrations, so putting a plate down on the coffee table won’t, for instance, start the dishwasher.
The applications are only limited by the available compatible technologies and the user’s imagination. There’s already an impressive number of smart technologies designed to work with such a device, from TVs to lights to thermostats to coffee makers. As smart controllers like the Knocki continue to proliferate, the associated smart products will likewise flourish. If your house isn’t fully interconnected yet, Knocki can be used to control music, find a lost smartphone, snooze an alarm, and more basic functions. One Knocki will make a home a little bit smart, but several Knockis will make a home brilliant.
Check out the demonstration video below. We’re particularly attracted to the snooze alarm + make coffee by tapping on your nightstand, which approaches the Platonic ideal of Luxury.